Pumpkin Basics
Technically a member of the squash family, pumpkin can be prepared in the same ways you would any winter squash. It is particularly delicious cut into fair-sized pieces and baked with a little maple syrup and butter. You can puree pumpkin by mashing - using a fork or a potato masher, by using a hand mixer - the pumpkin will have a whipped texture, or my favorite method - the food processor, using the metal blade.
  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin open. Remove the seeds and stringy pulp.
  1. Roasting works best with smaller pumpkins, as they cook more quickly. If you are going to roast the pumpkin, pat the flesh dry. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the pumpkin cut side down on a parchment-lined* baking sheet (you will thank me for this when it comes to cleanup.) Roast for 45 minutes to an hour - depending on the size of your pumpkin and the thickness of the meat. Test the doneness of the pumpkin by poking the shell with a fork. If the pumpkin is done, the fork should go in very easily. Remove from oven, cool, and scoop the flesh from the shell. Mash or puree and use as desired.
  1. Steaming is more successful than boiling pumpkin because the pulp turns out less watery and seems to retain color and flavor better when prepared this way. Simply cut the pumpkin into large chunks and arrange on a steamer tray. Check after 30 minutes of vigorous steaming – it will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Remove when the flesh is soft, and scrape the flesh away from the skin. Either whip with a hand or electric beater, mash with a fork or a potato masher, or puree in a food processor – depending on how you will be using it and the texture desired.
Pressure Cooker
  1. If you own a pressure cooker, get it out and use it! For pumpkin - you are talking 3-4 minutes and it is done! Cut the pumpkin into 2 inch pieces. Place about 1 inch of water in the bottom of your pressure cooker. Put the pumpkin into the cooker, making sure that you do not over-fill. You will be cooking this at high pressure. Once pressure is achieved, cook 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh. Release pressure (quick release is fine) and proceed - a quarter of the time! If you have released pressure and find that the pumpkin is not done enough, simply bring the cooker back up to high pressure and cook for another minute or two.
  1. Once mashed or pureed, pumpkin freezes very well. If packaged properly and in an air tight container, it should be good until next year (or even longer). We use a vacuum packer to freeze ours, but if that is not an option at your house, zip top freezer bags work well. Lay the packages of puree flat - on a cookie sheet to freeze. Freezing any food flat saves freezer space and cuts down greatly on the time it takes to thaw. If you know what recipes you want to use your puree in, freezing it in the right amounts will make it easy to use. Just be sure to label the packages and include the amount of puree - and if needed, the recipe it is intended for.
  2. Pumpkin and winter squash can also be grated and frozen raw. Simply shred it using the coarse side of a box grater (or use the food processor), spread it out on a cookie sheet and freeze. When it is frozen, put it into air-tight containers or zip-top freezer bags. I use pumpkin or winter squash when I am making spaghetti sauce or meat sauce for lasagna - it thickens the sauce and adds sweetness without having to add sugar - not to mention the added vitamins. You can toss the frozen squash into cakes, soups, stews, muffins, cookies and so much more.
Recipe Notes

Use it as is for soups, casseroles, and desserts, or for an accompaniment to meats and poultry, beat in a little butter and cream, add a sprinkling of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Pumpkin puree keeps well frozen.

*You really do want to make sure that you use parchment paper on your baking sheet.  The natural sugars in the pumpkin will caramelize as they roast - yielding a yummy product and a mess on the pan.